A U-Haul truck rammed into bollards on Monday evening at Lafayette Park, close to the White House, allegedly driven by a 19-year-old who authorities say had a Nazi flag in his vehicle and is facing charges for threats against the first and second family.
U.S. Park Police said that their investigation indicates that 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula, of Chesterfield, Missouri, “intentionally crashed” into the barriers.
After the incident, the U.S. Secret Service said, Kandula told agents he wanted to “get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation.”
When pressed by agents about how he’d accomplish that, Kandula replied that he would “Kill the President if that’s what I have to do and would hurt anyone that would stand in my way,” according to the Secret Service affidavit.
Kandula allegedly claimed that he’d been planning for the incident for six months.
Asked about the swastika flag recovered from the truck, Kandula said he bought it online because “Nazis have a great history,” charging papers state. Authorities say Kandula also expressed support for “authoritarian nature, Eugenics, and their one world order” and admiration for “Hitler, because he was a strong leader.”
The collision occurred at roughly 9:40 p.m. ET on Monday, at the north side of Lafayette Square at 16th St.
“There were no injuries to any Secret Service or White House personnel,” U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi tweeted.
Park Police initially announced that Kandula was arrested and charged with “assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, threatening to kill / kidnap / inflict harm on a president, vice president, or family member, destruction of federal property, and trespassing.”
Those charges appear to have whittled down considerably to a single-count criminal complaint, charging Kandula with depredation of property of the United States, a charge that carries a possible year of imprisonment.
CBS affiliate WUSA recorded and photographed the scene as police removed a Nazi flag from the car and unfurled it on the ground.
NEW: Investigators pulled what appears to be a Nazi flag out of the U-Haul, but they haven’t provided any further details.
Here’s what we know: https://t.co/cXt81Ji2NA pic.twitter.com/jBsb1uPJA3
— Troy Pope (@troycpope) May 23, 2023
Shortly after the start of President Joe Biden’s tenure, the U.S. Intelligence Community released a report indicating that domestic violent extremists will “almost certainly” attempt violence and racially motivated extremists are “most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians.”
Earlier this month, Biden echoed the findings of his intelligence community in calling white supremacy the “most dangerous terrorism threat” that the United States faces.
“We know that American history has not always been a fairy tale,” Biden said in a speech at Howard University, a prestigious historically Black college. “From the start, it’s been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years between the best of us — the American ideal that we’re all created equal — and the worst of us — the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. It’s a battle that’s never really over.”
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